Thursday, July 21, 2011

Herodotus’ “Histories” of the Persian Wars (very liberally ‘translaparaphrased’): Book I sections 34 -35

34 (Nemesis begins to set Croesus up for the fall)

After Solon’s departure Nemesis laid Croesus low, presumably because the God was angered with his hubris in considering himself the singular man of greatest happiness. The fall began with a dream. The dream portrayed one of Croesus’s sons falling prey to disaster. It was later to come true. He had two sons, one of which was disabled. He was deaf and dumb. The other son, Atys, was as fine a young man as one could hope for.

Croesus dreamed that Atys would be struck and killed by an iron weapon. He awoke from the dream in terror, lost no time in acquiring a wife for Atys, and made sure to never send him into battle with the Lydian army, whom he had, until then, been commanding. Croesus also removed all weapons – javelins, spears and the like - from the men’s quarters and had them stored in the women’s area. He was afraid some blade hanging on the wall might fall on Atys’ head.


The arrangements for the wedding were well underway when a foreigner arrived in Sardis, a man who had endured great misfortune. He was guilty of manslaughter. From Phrygia, he was related to the Royal house of that country. This man supplicated himself before Croesus and begged him to cleanse him of his blood-guilt according to the customs of Lydia. The customs in Lydia are much as they are in Greece. Croesus complied with this man’s request. When the ceremony was completed, Croesus, curious to know who he was, and from where he came, said to this man ‘What is your name stranger, and from what part of Phrygia do you hail? What man or woman did you kill?’

‘Sir,’ replied the foreigner, ‘I am the son of Gordias. Midas was my grandfather. My name is Adrastus. I accidentally killed my own brother. I have been mercilessly driven from home by my father, who has stripped me of all my possessions.’

‘Your family and mine are friends,’ said Croesus. Be assured, you have come to a friendly house. If you stay in my territory you shall have all you need. But, pay heed to this; it would be best for you to not take your misfortune too much to heart.’ With this, Adrastus took up residence in the palace.

Do you have a sense of impending doom? Do ya? Ya should. Watch out Croesus...